Glial Cells: Neuroglia

Helmut Kettenmann, Alexei Verkhratsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In the human brain glial cells are as abundant as neurons. The relative number of glial cells has increased with increasing complexity of the central nervous system (CNS) during evolution. In vertebrates three types of glial cells can be distinguished in the CNS, namely, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and microglia. In the peripheral nervous system glial cells are represented by Schwann cells, satellite glial cells, enteric glial cells (EGCs), and olfactory ensheathing cells. Astroglia are a heterogeneous cell population that fulfill different supportive and homeostatic tasks such as providing guiding structures during development, controlling homeostasis of the extracellular space, providing energy substrate for neurons, controlling blood flow, and modulating synaptic transmission. Oligodendrocytes in the central and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system form myelin and thereby enable a high conduction velocity within the axons. Microglial cells are the immune competent cells of the brain and are activated during any pathologic process. The activated microglial cells can release many factors which influence the pathologic process. Taken together brain function is only possible by a concerted action of neurons and glial cells.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuroscience in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basic to Clinical
EditorsDonald W. Pfaff, Nora D. Volkow, John L. Rubenstein
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9783030888329
ISBN (Print)9783030888312
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2022


  • antigen presentation
  • astrocytes
  • astroglia
  • Bergmann glia
  • fibrous astrocytes
  • Glial syncytia
  • gliotransmission
  • microglia
  • myelin sheaths
  • myelin sheets
  • myelinating cells and diseases
  • Müller cells
  • neuroglia
  • neuronal-glial signaling
  • oligodendrocytes
  • phagocytosis
  • protoplasmic astrocytes
  • radial glial cells
  • saltatory conduction and myelin
  • schwann cells
  • tripartite synapse


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